National 29.7.2016 07:50 pm

We are still not voting – Vuwani

Vuwani residents dance ahead of a community meeting held by the protest task team, 02 September 2015. Picture: Refilwe Modise

Vuwani residents dance ahead of a community meeting held by the protest task team, 02 September 2015. Picture: Refilwe Modise

Communities are not happy their chiefs agreed to peace with government, despite no clarity on the re-demarcation of the area into a bigger municipality.

Vumani residents who have rejected a recent peace deal signed with government, on Friday insisted that they would boycott the upcoming 2016 local government elections.

On Thursday, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Des Van Rooyen and eight traditional leaders signed a deal aimed at ending the shutdown in Vuwani and surrounding areas.

Community leader Nsovo Sambo said the trust between government and the community had been broken before negotiations started, and the only way it could be restored was if government responded to their demands.

Residents want their area not to form part of the new municipality, arguing they were not consulted by the Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB).

Earlier, the ANC in the province urged the community to take the matter to court if they were not satisfied by the MDB process, claiming it did not have any say over municipal demarcation.

However, after the residents took to the streets, the ANC sent members to the area in a bid to calm residents after more than 24 schools were torched.

Sambo said politicians urged them to accept and be part of a municipality, but they were not consulted.

He said ANC leaders told them they would not bow down to their demands, and the burning and destruction of government property would not help. They said even if the community burnt down the whole village, nothing would change.

But government committed that the demands of Vuwani’s residents would be heard 14 days after elections were over.

During the peace deal signing, one of the traditional leaders indicated that their communities were “not too confident about the process” they were involved in.

Police presence was high in the streets of Vuwani ahead of the August 3 elections.

About 14 wards may not participate in the upcoming election if violence reigns in the area.

Sambo said they were not retreating and elections would have to continue without their marks on ballot.

“Our standpoint has not changed; we are not going to vote. Traditional leaders sign on their own; our campaign will continue,” said Sambo.

The community believes that their traditional leaders betrayed them by signing a deal they did not bless.

The shutdown is expected to end on Thursday.

Sambo said they would go to the schools and clean up so that children could return to clean classrooms.

There has been no schooling in the area for more than three months due to the shutdown.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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